Memories of Yemen relived [Archives:2006/974/Letters to the Editor]

August 21 2006

Mart van de
[email protected]

From 1992 to 1997, I worked in Yemen as a tour leader for a Dutch travel organization cooperating with a Yemeni agent. In 1997, with great pain in my heart, I left for personal reasons. This year, I thought it was about time to visit my Yemeni friends again, who have been in my heart for the past nine years. It wasn't only the friends I wanted to see again, but also that very special country that captured my heart from the moment I set foot on its ground in 1992.

A year ago, Aug. 19, was my personal “D-Day,” as I landed at Sana'a International Airport again for a two-week visit. My dear friends were there and we made a wonderful trip to their hometowns, Hobeish in the Ibb region and Al-Beidha. Their trust in me as a non-Muslim, their friendship and their hospitality was overwhelming. I have no words to express my gratitude, not even in my mother tongue.

The other thing I was very pleasantly surprised by was the way Yemen has developed during this past decade. I know there was lots of talk in the early '90s about getting electricity nationwide and paving all roads and there were great plans to end the waste and rubbish problem.

Well, I must congratulate Yemen's government and the Yemeni people on the great achievements that have been made. In certain areas of the country, you could compete with Western Europe, meaning that it's obvious that a lot of work has been done in Yemen in the past 10 years, whereas that can't be said of most European countries.

Last July, the United Nations published a report saying that Yemen still is in the top 50 least developed countries. I wouldn't worry too much about that. With the pace Yemen is getting things organized and improved (due to good government skills), combined with the positive attitude and greatness of heart of all Yemenis and with God's help, of course, Yemen will find its place in the future just as it did in the past.

Once again, thank you very much, Yemen and Yemenis, for a tremendous experience! See you soon.